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Blog // Thoughts
January 19, 2007

Contemporary Theology Book Meme

John Smulo has tagged me on the contemporary theology book meme (whilst also cleverly creating a sub-meme dealing with apologetics). The original idea was to outline three recent (i.e., post 1981) major texts in theology. Along the way it has evolved to include two subdivisions, one for major works and one for minor works. I’ll […]

John Smulo has tagged me on the contemporary theology book meme (whilst also cleverly creating a sub-meme dealing with apologetics). The original idea was to outline three recent (i.e., post 1981) major texts in theology. Along the way it has evolved to include two subdivisions, one for major works and one for minor works. I’ll do my best to stick with the spirit of this evolving meme by giving you two lists, all written after 1981 and all of which have (in my view) relevance for apologetics.

Recent Major Works In Contemporary Theology

Systematic Theology (3 Volumes) by Wolhart Pannenberg. The second most important 20th C. Protestant systematic theology after Barth’s Church Dogmatics (which, for the time being, we will assume is a systematic). I read all three volumes and the short introduction in detail over a period of about five years and have revisted them every few months since. I started out interested in the connection between Christology and Eschatology, but wound up more fascinated by the way Pannenberg handles hermeneutics and the mission of the Church.

The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age – George A. Linbeck Without doubt, one the most important and influential single volume works from the last century. I stumbled upon this one by chance as an undergraduate, read it in a week and after that started to change my outlook on just about every aspect of theological method and religious discourse. It was like peeling away layers of inherited rhetorical sediment.

The Scapegoat by Ren?© Girard Category-geeks might call me up here, since Scapegoat is more strictly a work in Religious Studies than Theology. At that stage I get irate and struggle to express myself coherantly without getting offensive. There’s a lot of vested interest, intellectual territorialism and fear at work when professional thinkers use words and discources to make those sorts of distinctions and that is exactly the kind of thing we become attuned to from Girard’s powerful classic.

Recent Lesser Known Works In Contemporary Theology

Systematic Theology (3 Volumes) by James Wm. McClendon Jr. For me, the outdstanding Baptist theology of the 20th C. Compelling because he starts not with Doctrine of God, or with Doctrine of Creation but with Ethics lived in community. However, the final volume is the pearl for me, opening many doors to what a comprehensive theology of culture might look like.

The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays by Hans-Georg Gadamer Art, poetry and theater in relation to both Spirituality and Christian proclamation. Most people who have studied Gadamer have read his epic, Truth and Method (or claimed to), but this much smaller work has a more direct and obvious connection to theology, especially theology and culture.

Science and Christian Belief – John Polkinghorne I’ve not often written or discussed this – but an important part of my journey towards a postmodern enculturated approach to theology began whilst studying Polkinghorne’s work on Science and Theology. His methodology draws on contemporary philosophy of science producing what he calls a “bottom-up” approach to doctrine. Transferring the same approach from the natural and hard sciences to the social sciences suggested to me a hermeneutical and cultural stance towards theologising. Given current debates on the edges of Science and Faith, it does seem pertinent to reconsider this book, which to my mind is Polkinghorne’s clearest and deepest presentation of his ideas.

I’ll be interested to see what Rudy, Greg, Linz and Brodie can come up with on this topic.

[tags] Theological Method, Dogmatics [/tags]

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Responses
John Smulo 16 years ago

Fernando,

Thanks for responding to the tag. You’ve given me lots of books to add to my reading list.

brodie 16 years ago

Interesting to see your choices. I’ll try and post something on this early next week.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

John,

So can I assume you’ve order the complete set of Church Dogmatics?

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Brodie, looking forward to it!

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